Detroit Dance Card Complete

The road to the Final Four has been successfully mapped out by Connecticut and Villanova from the Big East, the Big Ten’s Michigan St, and North Carolina from ACC country.  It figures to be an interesting weekend at Ford Field, with the basically home-standing Spartans tangling with Hasheem Thabeet in the first game, and the Wildcats and Tar Heels running the floor in the nightcap.  Buckeyenewshawk had Pitt in his bracket, so don’t ask him who’s going to win a week from tomorrow night.

I was very impressed by how Michigan St played today against Louisville.  They took the Big East regular season and tournament champions completely out of their game by never once being flummoxed by Rick Pitino’s pressure defenses.  They consistently were able to get good looks at the basket, and the Cardinals had no answer for Goran Suton in the 1st half.  The Spartans came out in the 2nd half and blew a close game open and left me sitting there waiting for a Louisville counter-run that simply never happened.  The Spartans are almost certainly the weakest on talent of the four remaining teams, but they play very disciplined and cannot be overlooked.

Also impressive was how Connecticut handled Missouri’s pressure and took it to the Tigers.  Mizzou made a good run to get to the Elite 8, but it was pretty clear the whole game that UConn was better, even thou Mizzou kept the final score respectable.

Less successful in the Big XII team keeping things respectable department was Oklahoma.  The Tar Heels jumped on them out of the gate and this game was never a contest.  Blake Griffin is an absolute beast.  If he comes out for the NBA Draft (and why wouldn’t he) whoever holds the #1 pick has to take him, IMHO.  But he had no help.  Teammates passed up open perimeter shots in favor of shot clock violations on a couple occassions, whereas UNC got scoring from all kinds of places.

Of course the game of the weekend was obviously the Pitt/Villanova affair in Boston.  That was an outright heavyweight clash for 40 minutes at the TD Banknorth Garden, a mano y mano fight to the closing bell.  And Villanova was about to go down in the annals of choke job history when that full court inbound pass got stolen, and then they fouled Levance Fields at midcourt with 5.8 seconds left allowing Pitt to tie the game at the foul line.  But then Pitt got caught flat-footed on the ensuing final play and no one was willing to risk getting called for a foul trying to play actual defense in the paint, though in that situation non-brutal contact would not have drawn a call.  But I think it correct that Villanova got that win, irregardless of process.  Going 22-23 from the foul line should be rewarded, and they made plays all night.  Of course, after a shaky start, so did Pitt.  That was a great college basketball game, and we’ll be lucky if any of the 3 in Detroit are that good.

On a lighter note to finish, we of course are now down to the Futile Four to see who becomes the anti-champion.  That would be the team that lost to a team that lost to a team that lost etc.  The anti-champion of the Midwest was Wake Forest (to Cleveland St to Arizona to Louisville to Michigan St), of the West was California (to Maryland to Memphis to Missouri to Connecticut), of the East was Florida St (to Wisconsin to Xavier to Pitt to Villanova), and of the South was Temple (to Arizona St to Syracuse to Oklahoma to North Carolina).

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